Halloween presents risks, can be made safer
By Dr. Cory Neudorf, interim senior medical health officer for the Saskatchewan Health Authority
The second Halloween of the COVID-19 pandemic is right around the corner, amid a fourth wave driven by the Delta variant which is primarily impacting the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated.
Halloween does present risks of increased COVID-19 transmission, which could potentially lead to outbreaks, and is a concern given that the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Canada (20.2 per cent) are currently among those 19 years of age or younger, the age group most likely to take part in Trick-or-Treating festivities.
Saskatchewan currently has high rates of COVID-19 in the community and low vaccine uptake. Medical Health Officers like myself are encouraging everyone thinking about taking part in Halloween activities to be sure to review the provincial public health orders.
We suggest that if the prevalence is high in your community, you avoid having indoor gatherings of any type, especially if you are unvaccinated. We also ask that you consider alternatives to trick-or-treating.
But if COVID-19 rates are relatively low where you live, Halloween can be done safely.
- If you are feeling unwell, please stay home.
- Trick-or-Treat with only your family members or a few close friends you already spend time with.
- Be sure to:
- Wear a mask; incorporate it into your costume if possible;
- Ensure physical distancing (two metres); and
- Wash your hands before and after Trick-or-Treating.
- When approaching a house, have patience and wait for the group ahead of you to leave before approaching. Do not crowd the doorstep and stand two metres away. Knock on the door (avoid using the doorbell) or play a pre-recorded ‘Trick-or-Treat' audio on your phone.
- After Trick-or-Treating, and prior to eating any treats, be sure to wash your hands.
Handing Out Candy
- If feeling unwell, please do not hand out candy.
- Only one person per household who is vaccinated should hand out treats for Trick-or-Treaters.
- When handing out candy:
- Wear a mask;
- Wash your hands frequently;
- Use tongs to hand out candy or hand out individual candy bags; and
- Only offer store-bought, individually wrapped candy.
- If weather permits, sit outside and place individual candy or candy bags on a table for children to take.
- Frequently sanitize high-touch areas including the doorbell, doorknob, and handrails for general hygiene and to protect against any viruses.
- Overall, gatherings should be kept small, especially if children under the age of 12 are present. Get together in small groups with households you frequently socialize with and ensure everyone is fully vaccinated.
- If weather permits, gather outside.
- If you are indoors:
- Open windows and ensure good ventilation;
- Maintain physical distancing (2 metres);
- Avoid sharing food and drinks;
- Consult the local public health unit or area for any gathering limits; and
- Limit gatherings, whether they are in a home or in public places (e.g., bars and restaurants), to those who are fully vaccinated.
- Consider taking part in other outdoor Halloween festivities (e.g., corn maze or pumpkin patch) instead of gathering inside.
- In-school Halloween parties: Keep children within classroom cohorts. Offer store-bought pre-packaged treats instead of homemade Halloween baked goods.